Tobias: I was lucky to have a teacher like Mrs. DrydenPublished 4:59pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012
By Mike Tobias
Assistant News Editor | cat5 magazine
I began my work the week of Oct. 14 the same as any other at my newsroom in Beaumont, Texas. Perusing the wires, reading other newspapers — especially the ones from back home in Southwest Lower Michigan. It might seem like a world away, but I still like to keep tabs on what’s going in the surroundings of my hometown of Berrien Springs.
I knew something was amiss when I began seeing Facebook posts regarding the “loss of a teacher” from friends I grew up with. It’s been seven years since I last stepped foot into Sylvester Elementary School to catch up with a few of those teachers who meant the world to me growing up. Whose impact had left a lasting impression on me long after I was merely a grade-school student.
One teacher in particular instantly recognized me, gave me a hug and would not stop asking questions about how I’ve been … what I’ve been up to … how my parents were. Before then, the last time I spoke to her was on a December afternoon in 1997, when I said goodbye on the eve of my move to Texas.
I was able to tell her all about my life. How the move to Texas ended up for the better. How the urging of another teacher helped to shape my career path in journalism. How I took a tour of Europe to help complete my college courses and experiences.
And how two weeks earlier I had just been promoted to photo editor at my first Southeast Texas newspaper.
It was then that I said thank you, and I’m so happy I did. I’m so happy I was able to, and she knew why and remembered. She was my second 2nd grade teacher. I was held back a year to better suit my age.
Scared that I had done something wrong, Mrs. Jean Dryden was there for me that second go-round. To let me know that it was not because of anything I had done. As time in her class went by, and I would finish my school work early, she would always allow me to go read in the library. And she always enjoyed how fast and accurately I could type on a computer (that shout out goes to my dad).
I never knew confidence before I met Mrs. Dryden. It’s a trait, along for my zest for excelling, that I relish. It’s a trait that has helped lead me to the life I currently enjoy. 32 years old. Assistant News Editor at the Beaumont Enterprise. Husband. Father of one, with one on the way.
I was saddened to hear of her passing on Oct. 14th, but it makes me happy that I was able to thank her, because had it not been for that extra year of 2nd grade, I never would have made the move to Texas when that opportunity came for my family. And who knows how my life would have ended up.
My thoughts and prayers immediately went to her family, and to all my fellow classmates from that 1988-89 2nd grade class of hers from Mars Elementary who I still keep in contact with.
I can only hope and pray that every school child be so lucky to have a teacher like Mrs. Dryden in their lives.